A Renewed Acquaitance

André Breton, Joseph Cornell, 1966

 
 

It was through the meditation of Susan Sontag’s review of Maurice Nadeau’s book on surrealism that Joseph Cornell renewed his acquaintance with the writings of André Breton. This renewed contact was as Cornell put it, a risorgimento, bringing again the image of “the midnight sunflower”. It was not only Breton’s face that appealed to Joseph Cornell but certain images associated with him. These had, like his face, a certain talismanic appeal: see, for instance, the diamond, standing for Breton’s dream of the crystal.

Two things associated with Breton had special meaning for Cornell. First, Breton’s image of communicating vessels, with the marvelous interchange of one thing and another, this baroque interpenetration perfectly emblematized in the scientific experiment of the same name. in a sense, this imagined communication of elements compensates for the radical enclosures of his shadow theater boxes, as if between the boxes a link could be perceived. The midnight sunflower refers to Breton’s poem Tournesol (Sunflower), in which he recounts the discovery of marvelous encounter of his love, inspiring Cornell’s box Tournesol, itself an encounter, like all of his boxes. On this particular box, he worked repeatedly in January and February 1966: Cornell’s Breton period.

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From a Beauty Point of View

Venus as a Boy was released as the second single from her 1993 album Debut (1993). The song was written by Björk and was produced by Nellee Hooper, who produced the majority of her debut album. The single was released in August 1993, a month after the release of the album. The song was inspired by a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view”.

It was one of the last tracks to be recorded for the album. The song was inspired by a “specific person” but Björk never revealed who it was. Although, it is supposed that this specific person is Dominic Thrupp (also known as Dom T.) with whom Björk had a relationship at the time of writing. Moreover, the song talks about a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view, and not superficial beauty but the beauty of brushing your teeth and the beauty of waking up in the morning in the right beat and the beauty of having a conversation with a person.” as revealed by the singer.

 
 

 
 

The accompanying music video was directed by the British music video director Sophie Muller. The clip shows Björk in a kitchen while she’s cooking some eggs and was inspired by the singer’s favorite book Story of the Eye, a 1928 novella by Georges Bataille that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. It is narrated by the young man looking back on his exploits. In one point of the book, a girl, Simone, uses boiled eggs for sexual stimulation.

 
 

 
 

The story of the egg comes as Björk explains:

“ She [Sophie Muller] kept going on about it being fried. I was saying, ‘No way is that book about a fried egg! I’m sorry. Poached? Okay. Boiled? Okay. Raw? Okay. But not fried.’ [And a fried egg is unsuitable because……?] Because it’s too hard. It’s rough and it’s greasy. It should be about being sort of liquidy and wet and soft and open… ”
She gave Muller a copy of Story of the Eye a couple of days before they filmed but didn’t insist that she read it. Muller didn’t have the time. After recording the video and then reading the book, Muller admitted to Björk that “Fried was the wrong egg!”

Much of the cutlery featured in the music video came from Björk’s house.

Björk described the composition of the song in an interview with David Hemingway:

“I think I wrote it in my living room in Iceland and sang it into my dictaphone. Later, by accident, we were going through sounds and I found this broken bottle sound. It wasn’t intentional but it sounded great. It was one of the last songs recorded for Debut – the album was ready to go. Sometimes the more unpredictable side of me does several headstands and flicks-flacks once the album has been delivered and the best song come out.”

The movie Léon (Luc Besson, 1994) features the song in a wordless series of scenes between the two main characters.

 
 

Photos by Jean-Baptiste Mondino on Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.617458368342940.1073741832.597542157001228&type=1&l=e7c3558a86

À la Recherche du Shoe Perdu

À la recherche du shoe perdu, Andy Warhol, 1955. Blotted line drawing, watercolor and ink on paper. The title is a play on words inspired by Marcel Proust’s novel À la recherche du temps perdu.

 
 
 
 

Ralph Pomeroy (1926-1999) throughout his writing career published essays, monographs, catalogs, three poetry collections and an illustrated book of poems with Andy Warhol entitled “A La Recherche du Shoe Perdu“. One of his books was about painter Theodoros Stamos. His friend, Edward Field, discusses his life in his book: The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag and Other Intimate Portraits of the Bohemian Era (2007, University of Wisconsin Press) In an article for the “The Gay & Lesbian Review,” (July–August, 2005, Volume 11 Issue 4), Field notes that the openly gay Pomeroy was accepted by Yaddo 1955, “where he scandalized the sedate arts colony by having an open affair with painter Clifford Wright.